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Springbrook's Olasewere is Ready to Show Off His Improved Attitude

Jamal Olasewere, who led Springbrook to its second straight Maryland 4A state championship, says he spent his senior year transforming his attitude. He has become one of the area's top unsigned recruits in the class of 2009 and he has recently drawn interest from Georgetown. He will play in the Capital Classic. Video by B.J. Koubaroulis/The Washington Post

"I just think Coach Thompson really liked him, that he was physical, that he could rebound, that he was strong and knows how to mix it up and was a team player and he knew when to be unselfish, but also when to take the game over," Myers said.

It was a little more than a year ago when Olasewere swung an elbow at an opponent's face during a playoff game, earning a technical foul and a mandatory suspension from the next contest -- Springbrook's 4A state semifinal. It was a play that earned him a reputation that he spent a season trying to erase.

"Jamal got a bad rap after all that," Crowell said. "The way people look at him is not really the person he really is. He's not a thug. He just sometimes has been immature in some of the things he does, but never as mean or vindictive."

The mere fact that he will be playing tonight at AU gives Olasewere tangible evidence that his continuing maturation process has been worth the effort.

As a freshman, Olasewere would duck optional team weight-lifting sessions, was a constant on-the-court trash-talker and a difficult teammate whose frustrations often manifested themselves into heated exchanges. He said he "was a kid who was immature and irresponsible, a bragger. This Jamal now is a leader. He takes everything more seriously and he's very responsible now."

While his trash-talking has simmered, it has not died and Olasewere's senior year transformation has not been without blemish, but he has gone from skipping workout sessions to leading three-mile conditioning runs near the Silver Spring school's campus.

"He's not a perfect kid by any stretch," Crowell said. "He's a good person deep inside."

A high-rising dunker and active around the rim, Olasewere averaged 20 points, 12 rebounds and 5 blocks per game this season, making Springbrook the first Maryland 4A repeat champion in 41 years. He still needs work on his medium-range jump shot, he said.

He plans to make his college decision "as soon as possible," he said. "I hope everybody can realize that I'm not the old Jamal from ninth and 10th grade year. I'm a new man."

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